Here’s What Happens When You Just Stop Writing. #Passion2Profession

I’m dealing with this…horrible thing that I didn’t ask for. I used to love to write. It brought me incredible joy…I woke up every day, filled with excitement and an urge to rush to my computer so I could continue to tell whatever story I was currently writing. It was never easy, but it was always fun, and somewhere down the line, it stopped being fun…So I’m in free fall, because you’re right. I don’t know who I am, or what I’ll be if I just stop writing.” — Shay, SOME KIND OF HERO by Suzanne Brockman.

By sheer coincidence I was reading my first Suzanne Brockman book when she took the stage at RWA in Denver. There was a certain amount of irony that her speech touched on how a lot of people were feeling, while at the same moment her written words were touching on how I, specifically, was feeling.

So what happens after you realize you’re in free fall because you don’t know who you are or what you’ll do if you just stop writing?

Let me tell you all about it…in short, it’s a roller coaster ride.

In the last few weeks I’ve bounced from relief to disgust to acceptance. I’ve also found myself suddenly sobbing for no obvious reason, eating way more carbs than I should, and being unable to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes.

But, let me tell you something else: There is hope. And beyond that, there is learning, and pivoting, and there are dreams bigger than being a famous-wealthy-award-winning-bestselling-insert your personal goal here- author.

Here are some of the amazingly positive things that have happened since I wrote this post—>> eight weeks ago:

1. I admitted I was no longer earning a living through my writing, and picked a different means to make money. I’m still training to teach English as a second language, but the decision to pursue that employment has given me the freedom both to engage in interests outside of writing, and to explore options in writing I never would have if I were “trying to earn.” There is a tremendous relief that has come with removing money from the equation in terms of what I write, where I write, and how I publish, in considering partnerships and avenues I’d turned a blind eye to years ago. My entire career developed in the age of Facebook, Amazon, contemporary romance, and Indie. I saturated myself in those worlds, hyper focused on those platforms. But guess what? There are other ways and places, other genres, other options. If I hadn’t “given up” so to speak, I wouldn’t be seeing all the things I am now.

2. I left behind the things I’m not good at and don’t want to do. No more fretting over ads and algorithms, cross promos and giveaways. Will I do those things again someday? Maybe. Will I ever spend a bunch of time trying to “master” them? No. I’ve been focusing on story ideas, refilling my well, the process of creativity. And I’ve been working with other amazing women who are interested in exploring the same things (come join us here—>>

3. I decided I don’t want to be multiple people anymore. There isn’t a “Selena the author” and a “Selena the person.” I’m building an umbrella brand because I’m too complex not to. “Selena” loves language and books and humanity. And those things aren’t contradictory. One of the first things a “real life” acquaintance said when she read one of my books was, “it’s amazing how you wove human rights into a romance novel. I didn’t know that was possible.” Of course it is, and yes, I do it, but I do it in my own way. It’s not a marketing tool or a selling point, it’s just me. I’m going to keep on doing it, but I’m also going to discuss it outside the books. I’ll never make a speech like Suzanne Brockman’s, it’s not my style. But I’ll advocate and educate and use books and language and the skills I’ve gained over a lifetime to make the world a better place.

4. I’m deciding to go deep. When I woke up all those weeks ago and realized I couldn’t keep doing what I had been, I was faced with some choices about how I view myself. The easy thing was to say, “I don’t have what it takes to succeed.” But deep down that didn’t feel right. The harder thing was to say, “I haven’t gone to the right place to succeed.” There are places I haven’t taken my writing and my career because I was scared. Places I’ve told myself are “too good” for me. No more. It’s time to test the waters, take the plunge, and go deep.

A few weeks ago I felt like Suzanne Brockman’s heroine. And some days I do still. But more often I am feeling that this is not an end, but a pivot, a shift into something that while more complicated and intimidating may end up being much more fulfilling. All this is to say: your dreams aren’t an all or nothing proposition. You don’t have to view this career as a zero-sum game. There are as many ways to be a writer as there are books to write. Open your mind, release your creative energy, and build your own road.

#Passion2Profession How to Bar-Con With Purpose

Another RWA national conference is in the bag and it’s time for the “lessons learned” portion. There are lots of notes being traded, stories being told, and ideas being exchanged. Some experiences were good, some unfortunately were bad, but all are useful and help newer writers decide whether they might want to brave the world’s biggest confab of romance writers the next time around.

I’ve attended three of the last four RWA conferences (because I refuse to add Disney World to the existing madness of a 2000+ attendee conference), but I’ve done it a little differently each time. And this year I finally felt like I was hitting my stride. Here’s how I did it:

  1. I am known for my inability to sit still and be talked at for long periods. I’m also known (at least to myself) as having a four-hour cap on my ability to people. Most of you reading this understand what I’m saying. It’s a lot of talking, and smiling, and trying not to overanalyze what you just said and how everyone around you reacted to it. Because of all this, I decided not to register for RWA this year (since it was down the road from my house) and “Bar-Con” instead.
  2. However, I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to learn some new things, so when the Kiss of Death romantic suspense chapter announced their annual pre-con day-long workshop, I jumped on it. This year the Denver ATF presented for six hours on what they do and how they do it, and it was fantastic! If you’re going to Bar-Con, look for opportunities like the Kiss of Death pre-con workshop. There are almost always a variety of mini-workshops directly before the conference that use a separate registration. They’re a great way to get the “learning” without committing to several days worth of workshops.
  3. I attended an awards reception. Granted, I was up for the award (and won it, thank you very much! 😉 ) but even if you aren’t, go to a reception for a friend who’s a finalist, or for one that your local RWA chapter hosts. It’s a good way to be involved with one of the industry’s other functions–applauding excellence–and whether it’s your’s or someone else’s, it’s important to contribute to it.
  4.  I scheduled one professional meeting and several social meetings. The social meetups were with a variety of people, and while they didn’t always turn out exactly as planned (twice I didn’t actually get a chance to talk to the person I’d come to meet with 😦 ) they were well worth the time and ended up refilling my well in ways nothing else could. I talked to old friends, met new friends, signed things for readers who were local, met up with newer writers who were also readers, handed out audiobooks just for fun, and talked about business, people’s families, future projects, etc. I came away with gratitude for the friends I’ve made in five years, awe at the level of talent of my fellow writers (I had FIVE friends who were RITA finalists, y’all), joy for the successes they’ve experienced both professionally and personally, and amazement that there were enough people who actually specifically wanted to see me that I filled four whole days with meetups.
  5. When you Bar-Con you don’t get to attend the  RITAs. I live streamed instead and really enjoyed it. However, if you’re super into getting dressed up and love to be live at things like that, you’ll need to consider what you’d miss if you go the Bar-Con route.
  6. I am in no way advocating that everyone stop paying registration fees and hang out in the lobby at RWA conferences. The organization needs the registrations, and depending on where you are in your career, there are dozens of useful and unique workshops that you won’t find anywhere other than the national conference. However, I learned something valuable about myself by taking a step back this year and sticking to the Bar-Con. For an introvert (like me), the combination of attending workshops all day and then trying to socialize on top of it is overwhelming. I did more “networking” and positive socializing this year than I ever have at past conferences, I also enjoyed this conference more than any previous RWA. I know that was because without the workshops I had the energy left to people.
  7. I now feel liberated to register for next year’s conference, and skip the majority of workshops. I’ve realized that what we sign up for at RWA is much bigger and more significant than workshops alone. It’s about the experience in its entirety and you aren’t wasting your money if you go and spend the vast majority of your time doing things other than sitting in panel sessions. So if you’re unsure about whether to attend a future RWA, or if you simply can’t afford the travel plus the registration, consider the Bar-Con, but do it with purpose, plan a variety of experiences, make those connections a priority, and release yourself from the idea that RWA is mainly about the workshops. Then commit to registering for the subsequent conferences because it’s how we give back to the organization that brings so much and so many together in such a unique way.

#Profession2Passion: It’s Called a Sabbatical

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about where I’m at with Indie publishing. It was hard to do, but freeing at the same time. And before I wrote that and since I wrote that, I’ve been thinking and considering and listening, both to myself, and to others.

And I’ve come to some decisions. The first is that I’m going to change the way I approach my writing. From day one I’ve viewed this as my profession, I’ve done it full-time, and because of that I’ve worked my ever-loving ass off to do everything possible to sell books. But no more. I will never stop writing and publishing, but I have to leave the earning worries behind. I want my writing to be a joy again, and these days it can’t be that when it’s also my full-time job.

To jumpstart the new outlook I’m going to take a sabbatical! I’m not going to give myself any deadlines or make any major commitments from now until the end of the year. I’ll still have a release in September (it’s already written) and some Radish stories to finish, but thanks to my understanding publisher, I’ve postponed the other major projects until 2019.

As I start my six months of taking a really deep breath, I’m doing other projects–things for fun, things that need to be done, things that matter to me. I have a huge list of house projects–painting, stripping wallpaper, decluttering–I’m continuing to volunteer with immigrant and refugee children each week, I’m planning a trip for my daughter’s 20th birthday, I’m dreaming about retiring to Portugal, and I’m dogsitting for all my neighbors, because dogs, y’all. Tons. Of. Dogs. ❤

And I want to do something else while I’m on break. I want to create something that’s the opposite of what’s destroying this business. I want to create something that’s a haven from the  totalitarianism of Amazon, that’s the counter to algorithms and ads and bookstuffing. I want to help other authors feel good about what they’re doing, give them a place where they don’t have to worry about sales numbers or review numbers or conforming to tropes. I want to listen to authors and talk to authors. I want to help someone learn to format their first book, or choose a beautiful cover, or talk about whether to have their main characters kiss in the scene at the winery or the scene at the beach. I want to be someone you can talk to about your career in terms other than how many sales you made.

So this is your official invitation to help me build something. It’ll be organic and evolving, and completely ours. We can talk about ideas and creativity, we can post drawings, photos, knitting projects, and recipes. We can organize philanthropy projects or celebrate birthdays by posting excerpts from things we’re working on. And we can talk about our jobs as writers, but not about cross-promo and algorithms. In this place we’ll talk about how to write with a toddler in your house, which diverse romance to recommend this week, or how your latest trip triggered your creativity and helped you plot a whole new series. We can talk about how to develop niche readerships or get books to readers in new and different ways. I want to make a place where we get back to what really matters–creating things we love, getting them to readers who love them too, and being happy in what we do.

Join Here:

BREATH OF DECEIT is Live on Amazon and FREE in KU!

Happy Release day everyone! The first book in my new Romantic Suspense series, BREATH OF DECEIT, is available on all Amazon sites and FREE in KU! This book has been a true work of passion for me. After years of watching shows like Sons of Anarchy, Animal Kingdom, The Sopranos, and Billions, I had to admit it to myself: I love dark, gritty, suspense.

So, I decided to go for it, write the book I’d always dreamed of, one that has ALL the things:  suspense, family drama, crime, heroes, sacrifice, and yes, just enough romance to make us want more. It was scary, and it was an entirely new challenge, but I knew it was time to give my dream a shot. The Dublin Devils were born, and today you can meet Cian, Liam, Finn, and Connor for yourselves. Four brothers born into the Irish mob, fighting to find a way out with the women they meet along the way. It’s available in ebook, paperback AND audiobook right now! I hope you’ll love the guys and their world as much as I do!

Here’s where to read it, and what early reviewers are saying:

Amazon –>>

Amazon UK –>>

Amazon CA –>>

Amazon AU –>>

Audio –>>

Paperback –>>

“Cian MacFarlane is one of the most complex and fascinating characters I’ve ever read in a book. This book has it all—turn the page suspense, a story of the bond between brothers, betrayals, secrets, and romance. BREATH of DECEIT is Selena Laurence at her finest.” – Sandra Owens, author of the bestselling K2 Team and Aces & Eights series.

“Selena Laurence takes readers on a wild and exciting ride filled with sizzling suspense and heart pounding intrigue. I want my very own Dublin Devils mobster!” — New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Sarah Castille.

“A rare combination of spine tingling suspense and burning romance. You don’t want to miss this.” —Award-Winning Author Scarlett Cole

“The powerful plot, the intense storyline, the perplexing characters, the polished delivery, the impeccable grammar and structure all combined into one product that resulted in an impassioned satisfying and eloquent read.” — Girls Just Wanna Have Books Blog

“a fantastic start to a mafia family focused suspense story…I will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for book two.” — Between the Bookends Blog

“I am not a big fan of mobster romances BUT, this one is really, really, REALLY GOOD!! It is exciting, intense, full of twists and turns and a beautiful romance that adds a richness to the story.” — Goodreads review

“full of twists and turns and will keep you hooked to every page.” — Goodreads Review

“This book is wonderfully written…I devoured every element of the story right from the start. I can’t wait for the next in this series.” — Goodreads Review

Cover Reveal! Breath of Deceit Coming May 15th!

I am beyond excited to reveal the cover for the first in my brand new romantic suspense series Dublin Devils. BREATH OF DECEIT will release on May 15th, and this gorgeous cover was designed by Lori Jackson. Read on to find out more about BREATH OF DECEIT:

The Departed gets a modern upgrade with the injection of cybercrime and four sexy Irish mob brothers fighting to stay alive amidst drug deals and FBI probes.

Cian MacFarlane is the oldest son of Chicago’s reigning crime family. Now the defacto boss of the organization after his father’s retirement, Cian is feared by his enemies and revered by his brothers. But what if Cian isn’t all he seems to be? What if his end game isn’t to maintain his father’s empire but to topple it? As the MacFarlanes broker a deal with the owner of the world’s largest dark web site, Cian brokers a deal with the FBI. But when he meets Lila Rodriguez, a genius hacker working with the dark web, his feelings for her only make life more complex.

Determined to save his brothers, even if it means sacrificing himself, Cian lives moment to moment in a deadly underworld of cybercrime, drug deals, federal agents, and a vengeful parent who won’t hesitate to remind his oldest son what it means to be a MacFarlane. Through it all, Cian fights for his brothers to make it out of Chicagoland crime. But will the pieces fall into place before his breath of deceit is discovered?


Add it on Goodreads:

Preorder in paperback:

Read on for an excerpt from BREATH OF DECEIT and a Giveaway to celebrate:

The text came at six am on a Tuesday, and all Lila could think was that Cian MacFarlane must be nothing like Tony Soprano because she knew for a fact Tony stayed up all night snorting coke and screwing hookers, and wouldn’t have been caught dead texting people at six am.
     We need to meet. Eight am at Starbucks?
    Lila squinted at the phone, because unlike her mobster associate, she was not normally awake at six am—business in the world of the dark web started sometime around ten—and had been sleeping soundly before his texts started chiming in her ear.
    Now the only question was what the hell did the man want at such an ungodly hour?
    Why are you texting me at six am? Normal business hours don’t start until 8. Mine don’t start until 10.
    She waited for a response, her tension ratcheting up as the little dots danced on the screen while he typed. Her judgement at six am wasn’t the best. Maybe she shouldn’t have mouthed off to the mobster.
    But when the answer finally came, it took her breath away, and not out of fear. No, it was breath stealing for an entirely different reason.
     I was thinking about you all night, so it seemed only natural to contact you first thing this morning. Will nine work?
    Just like that. No warning. No explanation. Simply “I was thinking about you all night.” Did that mean about her in her capacity as a her? Or her because she was part of the project he was thinking about all night?
    Lila stared down at the phone, a slight tremor passing through her body.
     I’m not sure what to make of that she typed out.
     I’m not either he replied quickly. But regardless we need to discuss the project.
    She agreed to the nine am meeting and spent ninety minutes lying in bed, trying desperately to go back to sleep. When it became apparent she was wasting her time she climbed off the nine thousand dollar mattress she’d splurged on with her ill gotten gains, and went to the shower, trying not to think about the scary guy she had to go meet with.
    At nine oh five Lila walked into what seemed to now be “their” Starbucks. She stifled the urge to slap the inner her who would think of hot mobster Cian MacFarlane in any context that resulted in “we.”
    “Good Morning,” he said as she arrived at the table he’d staked out in a back corner away from the front windows and all the activity of the fancy reserve coffee bar. She wondered if he always sat away from glass in case of drive bys. While she had to worry about getting caught up in an investigation of dark web activity and finding the FBI on her doorstep someday, she never had to fear for her safety walking around in the world. She was hidden behind some of the thickest virtual walls ever erected. Almost no one knew who she was, what her real name was, or how she earned her living, and it kept her relatively safe. She couldn’t help but wonder what it was like to be a moving target every time you set foot outside your armored car.
    Lila gave Cian a small nod of her head in acknowledgment before sitting in the chair he’d pulled out for her in a gesture that was oddly gentleman like.
    “What can I get you for breakfast?” he asked.
    She peered at him, her brain still somewhat foggy from lack of sleep. “How do you know I haven’t eaten already?”
    “Because I woke you up far too early and you spent the next two hours trying desperately to go back to sleep before you finally had to crawl out of bed and rush to get here five minutes late.”
    She stared at him, disgusted by how accurate his assessment was. “It was only an hour and a half,” she muttered.
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